- Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Senior Writer
It might seem a tad optimistic to expect Jacksonville Jaguars rookie Denard Robinson to have fantasy relevance this season, but the beleaguered franchise announced earlier this week that he was the prime backup to starting running back Maurice Jones-Drew, an older, struggling player in the final year of his contract. Robinson was a terrific college player at Michigan, a quarterback who averaged 6.2 yards per rush and scored 42 touchdowns on the ground. Robinson is good; he just needs opportunity. We like to dream big here every Friday as we examine potential sneaky pickups, not necessarily for this weekend but for later in the season, and Robinson certainly qualifies for those with an open bench spot in deeper formats.
Robinson has been given 11 rushing attempts spread over six games -- and has done little with them, as he has totaled 25 yards -- but, now that the team seems interested enough to see what Robinson can do with reasonable touches, taking the odd step of making it clear to everyone he is next in line, things should improve statistically. Of course, Jones-Drew is hardly thriving on this sad-sack team, as the third-round pick in ESPN average live drafts is tied for 197th in overall season scoring and isn’t even 100 percent owned anymore, but that’s somewhat irrelevant. Look across Florida at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Doug Martin wasn’t playing well and got hurt, and now Mike James is relevant. James wasn’t a college quarterback, but so what. At some point, the lowly Jaguars might want to see what 23-year-old Robinson can do, given that the 28-year-old pending free agent really hasn’t provided much.
In fact, Jones-Drew doesn’t seem to be fighting the looming potential of losing touches, telling ESPN.com’s Jaguars reporter Michael DiRocco, “He gives us a mismatch. He's faster than probably every linebacker in the league. He's stronger than most corners and safeties, and he gives us a weapon that we can use anywhere on the field: outside, in the slot, at the running back position. He gets a great opportunity this week to go out there and show it."
It’s definitely something to keep in mind if you’re desperate at running back and looking ahead. And by the way, with Justin Blackmon’s season ending prematurely thanks to suspension, Mike Brown will step in as the starter alongside target machine Cecil Shorts. Brown has double-digit fantasy points in consecutive contests yet remains available in more than 99 percent of ESPN standard leagues. Brown has more value for this weekend, but Robinson could have more upside.
Quarterback: With bye weeks starting to wind down, there’s less need to find diamonds in the rough. After all, if you’re in the fantasy playoffs, chances are you have a good quarterback. Still, even if you own Peyton Manning or Drew Brees, look what just happened to Aaron Rodgers. Do you want to be stuck with Seneca Wallace? My favorite QBs owned in fewer than 25 percent of leagues are Jake Locker (plays Jaguars this week), rehabilitated EJ Manuel and strong-armed Case Keenum. You might not think you need them today, but ask a Rodgers owner about that.
Running back: Still available in more than half of ESPN’s leagues are Andre Ellington, Rashad Jennings, Mike Tolbert, Mike James, Andre Brown and Donald Brown. None of that makes sense, and, really, it’s not sneaky to add them. They either have been productive or will be soon. Adding Oakland’s Marcel Reece is sneaky, given that he’s barely getting looked at by his offense. He does have a track record, however. It’s curious that the Cleveland Browns haven’t given anyone else a look for rushing attempts since Willis McGahee has been so terrible. Chris Ogbonnaya? Fozzy Whittaker, perhaps? This won’t be the week for change on the field -- the Browns are on a bye -- but a looming time share wouldn’t be shocking. As of now, it’s not looking as if Houston Texans star Arian Foster is going to play Sunday. Ben Tate is hardly at 100 percent. Dennis Johnson, not the former Boston Celtics guard, ran well in Week 9. Shane Vereen returns next week! I wonder whether we would have discussed Vereen so much if he had been active for the past two months?
Wide receiver: Everyone’s talkin’ about when the Seattle Seahawks will finally unveil Percy Harvin. Hey, anyone else getting tired of waiting, after he was supposed to play weeks ago? Meanwhile, Seahawks Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse each scored in Week 9 and, for the season, boast a YPA of better than 10. It’s something to watch if you want more immediate reliability. Buffalo Bills rookie Marquise Goodwin has that Chris Givens-from-2012 look about him, making big plays in obscurity but getting precious few targets. He clearly has skills. Jeremy Kerley won’t be catching passes for the New York Jets for a while. It seems like a wise time to stash Santonio Holmes for December, just in case. One positive from Oakland’s Week 9 demolition loss: Juron Criner got his first chance for playing time and saw three targets, and two came in the red zone. His shoulder is hurt, but, if he's healthy, one would think he'll get a chance to play more. On the other side of the bay, I feel as if we’ve pointed this out quite a bit, but it’s not only Michael Crabtree eventually returning for the San Francisco 49ers but Mario Manningham likely will play this weekend. If, for some reason, you need a Monday night pickup at the last minute, Miami Dolphins slot man Rishard Matthews will play, and will see targets.
Best of luck to all for the rest of Week 10 and beyond!
It might seem a tad optimistic to expect Jacksonville Jaguars rookie Denard Robinson to have fantasy relevance this season, but the beleaguered franchise announced earlier this week that he was the prime backup to starting running back Maurice Jones-Drew, an older, struggling player in the final year of his contract.